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When you consider that hearing aids are worn by millions of people each and every day, it’s staggering to realize that hearing aids started off in such a primitive manner. Throughout the years, they have undergone several versions until settling on the modern ones you see in use today. Never before have they been so compact and comfortable, with a versatility and efficiency to match due to such advances in the technology for hearing aids over the last two centuries. That’s why it’s interesting to step back to see how far the technology has actually come, so let’s explore the long yet successful evolution of hearing aids throughout history.

Cumbersome Vacuums

These kinds of vacuums are not what you think. These tubes were made by Western Electric Co. in 1920 in NYC, utilized technology taken from Lee De Forest’s discovery of the three-component tube. The result was far better amplification as well as better frequency, but the comfort level was very low because the items were quite large and impractical. Still, they got smaller as the years passed and indeed served a purpose.

Where it all Began

The 19th century brought with it electrical technologies emerged spurred on by the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Thomas Edison was inspired by this invention and came up with the carbon transmitter for the telephone in 1878. This was designed to boost the basics of the telephone as well as the electrical signal to improve hearing. The 17th and 18th centuries produced devices that offered only limited amplification qualities. The phone invention acted as a starting point for advancement leading to electrical transmission of speech.

What we Have Today

The new millennium witnessed the emergence of programmable hearing aids for better flexibility, customization and comfort. Today’s hearing aids can seamlessly connect to Bluetooth technology as well as filter out annoying background noise.
To put this into perspective, 90 percent of today’s hearing impaired people wear digital devices. It’s necessary to go back a bit to the more primitive modern iterations that started in 1964 when Zenith Radio made the first behind-the-ear models. Through recent decades, inventions brought to light digital signal-processing chips, hybrid analog-digital models and fully digital models by the end of the 1990s.

On the Ear

In the 1930s, hearing aids could finally be worn on the ear with relative comfort. More compact models emerged during World War II for more reliable service to the user thanks to the invention of printed circuit boards. These devices were made by a Chicago electronics manufacturer, featuring a thin wire connected to an earpiece and receiver. However, there was also a battery pack which attached to the user’s leg which posed obvious imitations.
For the utmost in comfort, the hearing impaired community is now at the height of technology when it comes to the best in hearing devices.